How to Become an Influencer in 6 Steps
(and the epic insights on how to do it!)
Have you heard it yet? The buzz? It’s a swarm of influence—people gaining it, talking about it and wanting it.
When I work for Fortune 500s, I get to see the inner workings of how they hire influencers, who they hire and what’s important to them. They hire influencers (social influencers) for specific social media campaigns to access the audience on the platform through a trusted source (the influencer).
Influence is extraordinarily powerful. Everyone has influence, to a degree. You probably have “influence” over your significant other, your kids or your BFFs. For most people, their influence ends at their circle of friends and family.
Imagine for a moment, that your influence extended to thousands of more people. You say things like—”hey I got the best burger at ___” or “OMG! This is the best coffee I’ve ever had you must try it!” or a variety of other recommendations. Bluntly, if you said these things and you had no influence—no one would care!
However, when you make recommendations and you have influence—people jump all over that ish! Can you see how this would be valuable to brands?
Brands give away free product and pay influencers to spread these genuine recommendations to their target market. It’s pretty incredible! This happened for probably the last century with celebrity influencers. The only difference now is that “normal people” can become influencers through building a social media following.
Step One: Harness Your Brand & Create It
Branding can mean about a dozen different things to different people. Simply, there are two types of branding: strategy and design. You’ll be needing both, and especially the strategy.
You could have a killer design that’s attracting tons of people—but they could all be people that don’t resonate with who you actually are. You want to make sure the people you’re attracting are right for you and are in your target market.
Create a clear brand strategy.
Know what you stand for. Understand your messaging. I can hear you already… “Messaging!? What the duck does that mean!?” Okay, I’ll ditch the industry talk. You must know what it is that you do that’s valuable for others, and who it’s for.
You must know what you provide and why people appreciate it.
These are two examples to show value and audience.
Maybe you run a little comedy routine (or you just like being silly) on Youtube. In this scenario, you provide a mental break from the day-to-day by making someone laugh. You give them a moment to relax—and you lip sync to 80’s songs. Maybe your audience is chalk full of millennials. This is valuable to a specific audience that is looking to escape from their daily grind, and laugh. It has entertainment value.
For another example, maybe you sell small canvas original abstract paintings. You post the paintings all over your social medias, and talk about art with your followers. The value you bring is educating about art, and the second piece of value is helping people decorate their walls. Maybe the audience is 35-45 year-old women. You’re simultaneously educating your audience about art, and decorating the walls of their homes. This is valuable to a specific market.
Step Two: Create Consistent Brand Messaging on Your Social Medias
After you rock through your brand strategy template, you’ll be tacking your social medias. Flashy designs come in here. Once you know what you stand for, what you represent and who you’re “selling to” develop your social media identity designs.
These designs, covers and profiles will be consistent on every social media and your website. Repetition will keep you memorable in the eyes of your audience.
Social Media Identity Components:
#1 Profile Photo
Make sure this is a bright, clear photo of you—basement shots need not apply (no grungy bar shots either—I don’t care how good you looked in that slinky bodycon). I had one of my model friends even show you how to pose for a great portrait here. The article shows you ways you can pose and have a friend take a photo that looks professional (or at least Instagram-worthy).
The profile is the first things that gets attention to your profile. If it sucks, no dice. However, if it looks great and represents you well it will help build your brand and attract followers.
#2 Cover Photo
Most social media sites have “cover photos.” This is a photo that represents who you are, what you stand for, and communicates your value up front. In other words, you have an opportunity to showcase WHAT YOU DO FOR PEOPLE in the cover. This prequalifies people quickly upon arriving to your profile. Either they fit the match of what you do and who you help—or they don’t. This will prompt the people that resonate with your message to follow you, and others to bounce.
You’re not looking for everyone to follow you —just the people that matter.
Here are an example of a couple of cover photos done well:
#3 Bio Description
This is a little magic section where you get to build trust fast. Make sure your bio has your full name. Yes, you heard me correctly— “full name.” People don’t usually stalk… so don’t worry about it. Adding your full name allows your followers to know who you are, Google search you and see that you’re real. Yes they do this, and yes this is good for you and your brand if you have a great online presence.
- Add Your Full Name
- Add a Way to Contact You (email is usually good)
- Tell What You Do and for Who
- Include Relevant Personality Tid-Bits
- Add Your Location (City or State)
- Add Your Website Where they can Learn More About You
Step Three: Plan EPIC Content that Matters to Your Audience
Plan your content ahead and create things that matter to your audience. This is content that will entertain, educate or inspire the specific demographic of people that follow you (or that you desire to have as an audience).
You can receive the “best looking brand” award and still fail. Your content is the meat and potatoes to your brand. The external appearances (profile, cover, bio) are there to attract the right people in. Once you have them, you must provide tremendous value. Find every way imaginable within your brand and personality to entertain and enlighten them. Spend time educating them, and inspire them with your lifestyle.
Entertain Your Audience:
This one can be pretty literal. Find ways to entertain. Entertaining comes in many forms: hosting (or facilitating), making people laugh, making people cry, invoking the sublime feeling of seeing things bigger than yourself (like the stars and the Universe), and more.
Here are some real-life examples of entertaining an audience:
Jim Carrey literally entertains his audience with comedy. He does have a knack for educating while entertaining too, like this commencement speech on Youtube. If you haven’t seen it go watch it now, it’s fantastic!
Tony Robbins entertains his audience in his seminars by keeping them moving, upbeat, having fun, and cracking jokes to make them laugh. He connects with them on so many levels through allowing them to feel different emotions through his seminars: empathy, bliss, happiness, sadness, anger. This is entertaining. Of course, if you’ve watched or heard any Tony Robbins material, you know that he’s constantly educating his audience too in the process.
Educate Your Audience:
Teach them whatever it is that you know!
Here are some real-life examples of educating an audience:
Austin Iuliano teaches his audience how to build a sustainable social media audience and email list (especially how to get 1,000 views on Snapchat). I teach my followers how to build a sustainable Instagram following, and build influence.
Megan Snedden teaches her followers how to travel, break free and garner new adventures and experiences.
Tatianna Morales teaches people how to receive divine guidance through tarot to take control of their lives and create what they desire.
The last piece is to inspire your audience. Leave them feeling that “wow” factor and wanting to do something about it. If you can manage to entertain, educate and inspire your audience—you’ll have a big following and probably make $$ off of it.
You can totally make money as a content creator.
Here are some real-life examples of inspiring an audience:
Inspiring content builds you up and encourages you to build a better life for yourself. Maybe it’s the beautiful wander-lusting photos of @TuulaVintage or the New York life of @AGuyNamedPatrick. Both inspire you to travel.
Maybe it’s the brunching photos from @MelissaMale that encourage you to spend more time with friends. Maybe @MeganSnedden inspires you to travel and adventure more, to take more risks and live life.
Whatever you stand for can be an inspiration for someone else.
Step Four: Be Present & Available With Your Audience
Communities don’t just sprout up to support you. They’re nurtured. You must be present and available for your audience and support them first—especially when you’re small.
I’ve met too many people that have 1,000 or 10,000 followers on Instagram (especially in the lower range) that think they’re God’s gift to Insta, and they think they’re celebrities. Now, I’m not knocking self confidence—healthy love for oneself is terrific.
I’m saying that when you’re small, you can’t afford to boost up your ego to think “they SHOULD follow me,” or “I’m so hot shit that I don’t have to follow back, or talk to them.” Maybe it’s the more extreme… “Yes! More minions to do as I bid!”
Simply: don’t do this shit.
Appreciate every single f*#&ing follower you have.
I promise you that the tidal wave you’re looking for of influence comes in numbers. every single follower counts, and helps you reach your goals—so treat them like it! Get on in there and thank them! Thank them for commenting, liking, and engaging with you! Learn about them, and create beautiful, deep relationships.
I promise you that you don’t “deserve the followers” in an entitled way. You EARN followers by caring, and providing value to their lives. If you treat your followers like shit they’ll leave you—just like if you treated your boyfriend/girlfriend like shit (they certainly wouldn’t stick around). Treat them well, appreciate them and send them love. This is how you stay in relationships, build relationships, and consequently build your following.
Step Five: Collaborate with Like-Minds and Brands
Collaborations are an amazing way to learn and grow. Plus you’ll get to work with awesome people and brands!
Have you heard this phrase before? “A rising tide lifts all boats.”
Think about that for a moment.
A tide in the ocean will lift all boats on it. Jump on the tide and you’ll get the lift. When you come across brands or people that have the same values as you, and probably the same or similar audience– work with them!
The best scenario is you both have the same values, same audience but don’t compete. This means that you’re probably not both graphic designers with the same everything else. However, a graphic designer pairing with a photographer with the same values and audience could be seriously complimentary.
Reach out to other influencers and brands to work with. Then create something amazing that will dazzle and delight both audiences!
Step Six: Rinse and Repeat for AT LEAST 12 Months
The last piece of the equation (for now) is to practice. Life is a game of inches. Nothing will blow up overnight. I promise you, that you’re not going to wake up tomorrow with 400,000 followers on Instagram from 1,000 without putting some serious work in, and time. Even then, things build in inches. You could “go viral” and get an additional 2,000 followers this month. It’s incredibly rare to “go viral” and get 40k+ followers overnight so get it out of your head.
You must put in the real day-to-day work if you want results in a year. If you gained 30 followers a day (very manageable) for 12 months and didn’t take a day off, you’d have 10,950 followers at the end of the year.
Build your following one follower at a time (or 30!). This is exactly what I did. I now have close to 13K Instagram followers.
Influence builds over time as you put in the work every single day. So stop waiting and put in the work!
Success is inevitable if you know where you’re going and work on your goal every day.
All the influencers I’ve met have put in the time, and pure work ethic to achieve their influence. None of it was a “fluke” and they weren’t “lucky.” They worked at it. I’ve met loads of influencers and ask them what it took. I’ve met Marie Forleo, Gina DeVee, Seth Godin, Gary Vaynerchuck, Tim Ferris, Taylor Nikokai, Shonduras, and more. They all said the essence of knowing where you want to go and getting into the daily grind to make it happen one step at a time.
The secret to success is have the right strategy and put in the work.
Well, you have the strategy… now go forth and put in the work my love!
If you’re looking to become an influencer on Instagram, download my free video training on how to double your Instagram following!